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Which Socks Are Best for Cold, Wet Weather?

Q: When my socks get wet, they stop feeling warm. What kind should I buy for cold, wet weather?
Julian, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A: Check what your socks are made of. If they’re cotton, you’ll want to shop for a different pair made of wool or a synthetic blend. Cotton fibers can absorb up to 25 times their weight in liquid, and when they’re soaked, they lose the ability to insulate. Plus, if you’re hiking in water-logged socks, you have a greater chance of developing blisters.

Wool and synthetics wick away moisture, dry quicker and continue to insulate when damp. Plus, they’re really comfortable.

A couple of socks I recently tried out are the Bombas Merino Wool Blend Hiking Calf Socks ($26, and the Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Crew Socks ($23, Both are cushioned, stretchy and fit snugly, perfect for hiking and backpacking.

The Bombas socks are made with 66% Merino wool, which comes from Merino sheep, a breed whose wool is very soft and breathable. The wool fibers distribute moisture rather than absorbing it, like cotton does. The Icebreaker socks are made with 59% Merino wool and the rest — like with the Bombas socks — is nylon and elastane, synthetic materials that provide durability and stretchiness.

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